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Bitter Flowers

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Bleary, brown eyes opened slowly, surveying the blurry and darkened room she occupied. Hannah lay on her side towards the wall, tucked cosily into her soft and silky bed, trying to figure out how long she had actually slept for. She knew that she had slept for longer than a nap should usually last, quickly figuring that out from how dark the shared dormitory was and how silent and still it and the hallway outside appeared to be.

Hannah turned to lay on her back, not resisting the urge at the front of her mind that insisted she do so. Her covers bunched up a little as she gave no room for them to move, laying on top of them on one side and letting them ride over her arm and shoulder on the other. The cooler air felt refreshing on her exposed arm and the skin beneath her warm, creased clothing.

She sighed silently.

An annoyance washed over her. Her nap was not meant to take her way past curfew.

To add to her woes, of course, she still felt tired. Maybe it was from just waking up, but she had felt exhausted for weeks now, so maybe that was why her weariness lingered. She could remember her sleepless nights with her stomach feeling tight, nibbling at her with an itch of anxiety and fear. Now she felt nothing, and not even the tummy tantrum of missing out on a small, modest dinner.

All that remained now was those racing thoughts in her mind.

Hannah just wanted to have a quick nap to catch up on the sleep she was lacking, on sleep she knew she would struggle to have come the night, and that point kept repeating in her head like a song on repeat. She could feel herself becoming flustered and she began pulling away the covers tucked below and resting atop of her. The bundled and ruffled bedsheets crashed into the wall with a sound that would hardly disturb a resting feline.

Her lack of sleep for weeks on end had finally caught up to her, and now she had to worry about a disturbed body clock. As if she didn’t have enough on her plate as is. She brought a hand to her face, a little clammy from her prolonged nap, and she rubbed at her eyes. The fatigue of the day must have been her tipping point in the end – which made sense since it was the most active she had been for a while.

Who ya waiting for, England?”

A cocky and arrogant voice rang in her head.

Memories of the day returned, still fresh and clear in her mind as it began to replay them like footage on a television.

“I really did hang out with her, huh...” Hannah whispered to herself, her voice a little strained from a lack of moisture in her throat and the tiredness that persisted in her body. Hannah had not been too sure whether to have her little roam on her broom this afternoon, but Amanda had somehow convinced her enough to go one step further and to the local town. She wasn’t sure why she did in the end, but she could not stop herself from admitting that she kind of enjoyed the experience.

A small smile found its way onto her lips.

Hannah let out a breath that she did not know she was holding. Her body rattled as a shiver went up her spine, as if a pulse of energy had ridden along her back to the very top of her head. Hannah felt a drive within her that she had not felt for a long time, and although she still felt tired and dreary she felt the urge to get out of bed. She was gasping for a drink anyway; just a simple cup of cold water would suffice.

Her legs felt a little buzzy, and she could not withhold their temptation to stretch and bend. She rose from her bed, sitting up and giving her legs the movement theyso desperately, suddenly desired. Her feet touched the cooler floor and her hair slightly swung from side to side before resting into a slight bed-head – nothing a two minute brush couldn’t fix.

Bringing her arms up she gave them and her back a quick stretch, enjoying the slight crackles that came from her knotted muscles.

Standing up, Hannah looked around to see if Barbara was sleeping in the bed across the room. She was not surprised when she saw no evidence of that. The raven-haired witch was likely sleeping over at Lotte’s dorm again, something that had become more and more common as every new day passed by. Usually Hannah would feel that recognisable pang of pain in her chest and stomach when thinking about it, but right now she only felt a slight twinge, mixed in with a jealous bitterness that often reared it’s ugly head.

She turned away, blinking slowly and walking over to one of her drawers. As she reached down she hazarded a glance at Diana’s portion of the room, separated by an archway. The heiress appeared to be sleeping contently, but it was difficult to see in the lack of light.

Hannah moved on from her check-up on her friend and slowly sifted through the drawer for one of her brushes. She was making sure to be careful, not keen on waking up Diana from her much needed rest, and was more than grateful in almost immediately finding the brush of her liking.

She took it from the small compartment and placed it gently on the desk. Hannah had the idea of getting out of her creased, slightly sweaty clothing and putting on her favourite dressing gown before brushing her hair. The auburn-haired girl lambasted herself for ruining a perfectly fine set of clothing by – in a warm and humid Autumn mind you - sleeping with them on with covers draped around her.

She undressed herself at a moderate pace, placing the old clothing into a wash-basket by the drawers and putting on some fresh underwear for good measure. She had a reason for wanting to put on her dressing gown: she wanted to have a little walk.

Now Hannah was not one to usually break curfews and school regulations, no no. But a growing nihilism had taken root within Hannah over the past few weeks and months, so she really did not care too much about doing that. A quick hum of laughter rumbled in her throat as she reached for her jet black dressing gown, reacquainting herself with the soft, fluffy fabric of the dress, shaking her head. Like any student on patrol would be believed when reporting her for breaching the rules... if they even caught her, that is.

Wrapping the gown around her, tugging everything into place and making a knot out of the waist belt, she reached for her brush again and began to groom her slightly messy hair. She looked at the mirror despite the darkness, more out of instinct but a little because she could just see the outline of her face.

Hannah brushed slowly, relishing the feeling of the brush swimming through her hair and scratching at her scalp. She felt a masochistic enjoyment in pulling at the tangled clumps in her hair. It was a reminder that she did indeed feel something other than bitter sadness.

As expected she had only taken about two or so minutes to sort out of her silky auburn hair, figuring out that the job was done with touch alone; She refused to turn on a lamp out of fear of waking up Diana. She lazily placed the hairbrush onto the desk instead of putting it back in her drawer, then placed her hands beneath her hair and brushed her silky strands into the air. Tossing her head around a little to finish the job, Hannah then turned on heels to face the door, her hands moving behind her to brace herself onto the desk.

A little walk won’t hurt after all...’ She thought to herself, hoping that the midnight stroll would help her expel what little energy was lift within her so she could get back to sleep. Hannah figured that she would be waking up early anyway, but a lonely morning shower would also do her a world of good.

In her humble opinion, at least.

A small little grin tugged at her lips as she pushed herself away from the desk, enjoying the swoosh of cool air that hit her face from the sudden movement. She hated feeling lonely, but a walk alone in the corridor was a very nice prospect. She strode to the door, and all that could be heard was the pitter-patter of her bare feet.

Quietly she opened the door, leaving with just as little noise.

All that could be heard was the pattering of footsteps, whose echo slowly died down into nothing. A curious witch laying in her bed listened to the fading noise, worried about her friend...


Slowly and delicately, Amanda pushed the door shut to Sarah’s dorm, using her hands and head to do so.

She kept her forehead rested onto the wooden door even after she closed it, a feeling of exhaustion and exasperation coursing through her. It threatened to drown her, and the river of self-hatred and worthlessness did nothing to help her torn feelings.

Another one-night stand. Another wasted night that did nothing to solve her problems. It may have only been her second, but it already felt like a common occurrence. To her, after the fact, all it did was make things worse. The pleasure and fun could never be worth it, even if her hormones and lust blinded her in the moment. Even those brief hours of relief, where she could forget everything that was wrong, were nothing compared to the regret she was feeling right now.

Amanda enjoyed it, she would not lie. It felt fantastic to just give in to the whims and explorations of another woman, letting Sarah pleasure her and enjoy herself atop of her. She was slowly becoming addicted to those moments, those moments where she could take control and find pleasure, or be controlled and have it bestowed upon her. The switching and swapping with Avery flashed through her mind, and the images nearly elicited the kind of reactions she had just experienced this evening.

But instead she pushed herself away from the door in anger. Amanda wasn’t angry at Sarah – no, to Amanda she did nothing wrong, not really – but at herself. As she walked further and further away from the dorm she came from her footsteps became louder and louder, as did her breathing. A rage boiled inside of her, and the midnight glow of a full moon revealed the flushed and bitter look on her face.

Her emerald eyes were wide open and bloodshot. While her brow was relaxed instead of furrowed, it gave off a demented look rather than that of pure anger. She felt lost in her whirlpool of emotions, even as parts of her body tingled and felt light, threatening to release a powder-keg of shouts and screams.

Amanda’s mind was abuzz with debate. Part of her wanted to enjoy herself and her antics, to just have her fun and get over Akko. It was so much a part of who she was. She thought to herself: ‘I’m getting laid after all’, but what use was that if she always felt so hollow inside?

And that other part of her wanted her to do more than just move on. That part of her wanted to tell Akko the truth, to sort herself out, to find someone who could help her and temper her. Something or someone that would no longer make her feel empty and foolish.

Why are you doing this?’

Just get some help for fuck’s sake...’

Enjoy yourself, seriously, come on.’

Back and forth and there and back, her head throbbed as her brain screamed at her to make a choice. Her head began to ache as she struggled with her emotions, and she began to walk on autopilot, going to any place and anywhere. She could hear the footsteps in her ears but they did not register in her tormented mind.

Still, as she began to walk in a hurry, slamming her shoes onto the hard concrete of Luna Nova’s halls, her head screeched with indecision and frustration. Even as the sound of slamming shoes within the halls grew louder, not caring about anyone catching her nor the sharp pangs of pain in her feet as she slammed them onto the floor, the white noise in her head dominated.

Tell Akko the truth!’

Move on!’

Get a fuckin’ grip!’

A loud thump registered in her ears, and a sharp pain shot through her right hand and arm. Amanda almost welcomed the shocking bolt of pain that hit her as she recoiled, snapping back to reality and nursing her now damaged hand.

She brought her hand upwards to get a better view of it, ignoring how her arm complained and protested at the action, stinging strongly.

Her knuckles were immediately bloodied, with gashes along most of fingers in a symmetrical line from where her fist made impact with the unscathed concrete wall. Around the cuts and broken skin was throbbing red skin, also sore from the action. However the dull thud of pain in her hand, punctuated with a sharp spike of pain every few moments, put the stinging of her damaged skin to the background.

Amanda clenched her jaw, biting at her teeth, keeping suppressed a shout of agony that threatened to erupt from her. Grabbing her wrist with her undamaged hand she tried in vain to somehow ease the pain, forgetting about the wand on her green sash. Her eyes closed firmly as water threatened to spill from them.

The witch spent a minute or so trying to catch her bearings. She breathed heavily and deeply, with air rushing through her clenched teeth as she tried to get used to the near debilitating pain. A part of her was thankful to feel something other than the conflict and angst raging inside her head, but already a new wave of regret was hitting her from her unrestrained action against the unforgiving concrete wall.

“Fu-ck...” Her voice cracked as she hoarsely whispered to herself. She could feel the sweat on her brow as she rode through that horrible initial pain of an injury. Her gums began to feel a dull pain, and her teeth that weird, eye-wincing sting from grinding upon each other for too long.

A few more minutes passed, unbeknownst to Amanda. Some of her red strands of hair stuck to her damp forehead now, and the witch knelt down to rest against the same wall that she had just struck.

“Sorry about all this...” She whispered an apology to the wall, trying to distract herself from the pain that slowly became tolerable. Amanda felt a little insane, scoffing at herself for talking to a wall of all things. It wasn’t exactly a brick wall, but it wasn’t lost on the witch the connotations of such an action...

And how it was a kind of comment on her life.

Every time she tried to make progress with Akko, in whatever way Amanda felt fit to do so in the moment, it rebounded on her. She could never leave stage one. Amanda was constantly stuck at finding temporary relief, never advancing from it.

“I just... need more time.” She spoke to herself, trying to reassure herself that what she was doing was correct. Amanda felt that she needed just a little more strength, a little more build up before she committed to her next course of action. But even that she was not sure about.

What was next, really?

Confessing to Akko? That felt too quick. Dropping a hint? Too much pain that would multiply with every failed flirtation.

And it’s something I’ve already done for so, so long already.’ Amanda bemoaned inwardly, shaking her head and tutting. ‘She’s so fucking dense...’ Even now she could not help but smirk and let out a bemused huff. That was Akko... that was what made her so fun.

She threw away those thoughts of Akko quickly though, and turned to the next question: how would Amanda cope with the answer she knew would come?

Amanda did not just fear that what she was doing right now would escalate, but she was certain it would get worse. Amanda was completely convinced that an even more depressed and hopeless version of herself would commit further to this rabbit hole of endless flirting and sexing of other witches at the school, of wanting to drop out of Luna Nova by committing every single offence possible...

Then going it alone in world she cared little about.

Her nihilism was always her weakness, she was quick to acknowledge that... but she could never convince herself to drop it.

Now Amanda sat on the floor, ignoring how cool it was and the shiver that climbed from her tail-bone to her neck. She rested her head on the wall, and tried to centre herself from all these thoughts that ran through her. All these admissions within her were tiring her out, and she felt resigned to the idea that she would never take action on them.

Amanda just felt so hopeless.

The tears of pain that threatened to escape began to morph into droplets of despair.

“Fuck...” Amanda whispered again, her voice etched with a deep, regretful sorrow. In the cool dark of the Autumn night she had never felt so lonely and detached from reality. She felt as if she was in her own bubble of solitude.

And it’s all my fault...’ She thought, her conclusion drench in bitterness.

“It’s all my fucking fault!”

What started as a whisper became a full blown scream, and the regret and worry she should have felt for potentially exposing herself to a patrolling teach or a sleeping student was completely and utterly absent. She could not stop the rogue tear that escaped from one of her glistening emerald eyes, nor could she control her breathing that became even more heavy and fast.

Suddenly, a questioning voice danced through the hallway, quiet and restrained unlike her cry of anguish.

“Amanda?”

The English voice was mixed with hesitant footsteps that seemed to close in on Amanda. It was instantly recognisable to the maroon-haired girl, given she had been with the woman that afternoon.

“Oh... Hannah...” Amanda said with the hesitation, trying to get up from her awkward sitting position.

“Ah, no, something’s wrong, right?” Hannah said with a hurry, approaching the injured witch quickly. Amanda looked towards where she thought Hannah was coming from, and the moonlight from the windows illuminated her.

Before her was a witch in a fluffy black gown, covering her from shoulder to toes and held together by an equally soft and dark belt. The loose ends of the sash swished from side to side as she walked, as did the girls hair that was let down instead of being tied up as per usual.

“You’ve hurt yourself? What did you do this time...” Hannah pondered, an ever so slight tease in her exasperation as she knelt down to Amanda’s current height. The American looked upon the British girl with a daze. Her face appeared soft and almost perfect, barring the light bags under her eyes and the tell-tale signs that she had just been asleep. There was a slight gloss to her skin, and her lips appeared to be a little dry.

But the image felt almost perfect.

“Wha...” Amanda finally spluttered out a word, even if it was not a full one. Hannah hummed questioningly, hearing the confusion in Amanda’s hoarse, croaky voice. The worried woman got a look at her face, noticing the tear stain that ran down her cheek, and the splotchy red around her eyes. Hannah’s brow furrowed in increasing concern when she saw how bloodshot her eyes were.

“You’re never like this Amanda.” Hannah commented offhandedly, looking around the woman to find her grasping her right wrist. After a few moments, Amanda tutted.

“Tch, yeah, and?” She could not help but bite back, disliking her image being called into question. It was one of the few things that Amanda felt she called hang onto, and it pained her to hear it brought into question.

“And you need some help.” Hannah countered, placing her hand on Amanda’s and moving it away from her wrist. “What’s happened here..?” She added, gently grasping the wrist that she assumed had been damage. Her worries were amplified when she saw the small drops of blood and gashes of broken skin on the witch’s knuckles, illuminated by the dull light from outside.

“It’s nothing.” Amanda suddenly pulled back, just about unable to hold back a moan as her wrist screamed in protest. Her grazed knuckles glanced off of Hannah’s palm, so a sting now struck Amanda’s nerves.

“Amanda, please.” Worry crept into Hannah’s plea. “You said I could talk to you about stuff earlier, right?” Hannah was not just worried about Amanda, but worried that things were about to go wrong. She knew the attitude that Amanda was displaying right now...

Don’t push me away too...’

Yesterday she would not have dared thought she would ever say that to herself about Amanda... but a single day could change a lot.

The same could be said for Amanda. She remembered the conversation well and what she said as she departed to the hallways of Luna Nova:

If you ever need a chat, a proper one, you know where I am.”

Amanda did not like to turn back on her word. She had said that for a reason, but she still did not know exactly what that reason was. Without that reason, the reason why Amanda departed from Hannah in the first place encroached on her thoughts.

Another escapade.

Another night escaping from her troubles.

Another toxic way to vent her frustrations.

“I don’t-” Amanda paused, her voice having been raised, seeing the shock that immediately entered Hannah’s hazel eyes. “I don’t care...”

Hannah felt a twinge of pain hit her chest, but it was not like she did not understand the witch before her. She figured that something must be going wrong for Amanda in her personal life, but a stubborn part of her did not want to let Amanda go.

That old remnant of Hannah that wanted to be in the right, that would never accept being waved away as something useless.

“I, I don’t know what’s wrong, but, um...” Hannah trailed unsure of how to continue. She did not want to be too pushy, but she needed to get through to Amanda. Desperation arose rapidly in Hannah, and her damaged temperament could not hold it back. Quickly, she reached for the pockets of her gown. When she found nothing that resembled her wand, just more soft, warm fabric, she cursed at herself.

“Damn, aha... I don’t have my wand!” She said in a humoured irritation, shaking her head with a worried, wavy smile on her lips. “We still need a few more years before we get decent at hand magic... um...” Hannah commented nervously, her eyes darting from side in side. Meanwhile Amanda was despondent, looking away and towards the concrete floor. At this she could feel herself faltering, but Hannah had an idea.

“Why not come to my room?”

Amanda’s eyes shot open.

“My wand is there... I can ask Diana for help too.”

Diana...’

Hannah did not know it, but within Amanda a fresh cyclone of tormented emotions ripped through her. Her stomach felt like it was contorting and twisting like it was crumpled paper.

Being invited to a room... just like Avery and Sarah...

Then the whiplash of having the witch who was stealing her girl be mentioned.

Even out of innocence, even out of the desire to help, Amanda could not stop herself from being blinded with a petty, indignant rage. Her head raised quickly, and a deep glare emanated harshly.

“Argh, fuck off!” She shouted at the other witch. “I can deal with it, just-” Amanda paused when she heard a strangled noise from Hannah.

Her vision focusing, she saw the girls eyes water and her jaw drop.

“I... I-I was...” Hannah tried to speak, but nothing could come out. Her stomach felt light and her heart beat rapidly. A part of her felt frightened, and another part of her devastated.

Amanda looked away, bringing herself up to her feet. It took a lot of effort and willpower to find the energy to do so, as well as to fight through the pain in her hand and arm. When she rose to full height, she stumbled back a little, taking one last look at the girl that was still on the floor, who was barely able to hold herself back from crying.

“Just...” Amanda started, feeling ever more bitter at herself. “Just leave me alone.”

With that Amanda walked away in a hurry, not keen on listening to another lost friend sobbing on the cold, concrete floor.

Just as alone as she was.